The Devil Wears Virgin Polyester
Fast fashion is not free. Somebody somewhere has to pay for it. - Lucy Siegle
Fashion has always been one of the most polluting industries in the world, with clothing production causing at least 17 to 20% of the world's freshwater pollution. Fast fashion promotes the mass consumption of low quality products. With this comes a disposable mentality amongst shoppers who find themselves desperate to keep up with every rapidly changing trend.
At Rose Buddha, we’ve chosen to do things differently. Clothing manufacturing as it is causes immense harm to our planet and her future generations. Fueled by their deep desire to create an eco-responsible and ethical alternative to fast fashion, Madeleine and Maxime were inspired to found their lovechild of a company. Rose Buddha proudly offers local, handmade products created right here in Quebec, in a way that respects our planet and all her people.
What is fast fashion?
Fast fashion is defined as cheap clothing that is rapidly manufactured by mass market retailers in attempts to keep up with the latest look on the catwalk. As a result, the clothes we see on the runway seem to almost instantly appear on the hangers of popular department stores.
In a second, more critical definition, fast fashion refers to clothing’s swift migration from factories to the mall, as well as its rapid journey from our closets and into the garbage.
Industry trends shift at such an express speed that companies feel the pressure to produce clothing at an increasingly fast rate and at an even lower cost. This inevitably leads to the mass production of clothing. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is quickly followed by massive fashion consumption waste, as shoppers abandon their “old” items the moment more new ones appear in the store. Clothing quality suffers, with retailers competing for the lowest price in attempts to attract the typical consumer.
A Few Facts on Fast Fashion
- On average, we wear each of our items of clothing less than five times and tend to keep them in our closet for just over a month.
- 40% of our wardrobe will never be worn.
- More than 90% of cotton is now genetically modified.
- The average American consumes over 400% more clothes than they did 20 years ago, and keeps each item for approximately half as long.
- 95% of discarded clothing could be recycled.
What are the environmental impacts of fast fashion?
Every year, the average Quebecer throws 24 kg of clothing into the landfill. Unfortunately, clothing is not biodegradable and is made up of chemicals and dyes that eventually seep into groundwater. Groundwater is particularly vulnerable to pollution, as toxic substances can easily enter the earth from the surface. This contamination of the soil is not without consequence. But that is not all:
- 20% of the world's industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles.
- 25% of the world's pesticide use occurs in cotton fields.
- 2700 litres of water are needed to make a single t-shirt. This represents more water than you will drink in the next three years.
- Every year, clothing consumption produces 1.5 tonnes of CO2 per household. This is the equivalent of putting 6000 cars on the road.
- About 400 billion square metres of textiles are produced each year. Out of this, 60 billion will never leave the cutting room and end up discarded.
What is the human and social cost of fast fashion?
Have you ever wondered who makes your clothes? Did you ever think about how much they’re paid and what their lives look like? Could it be that there’s a significant human cost to disposable fashion?
Though the problem is hardly recent, the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh served as a catalyst to raise awareness among consumers. 1133 people were killed. More than 2500 others were injured. 80% of the victims were women.
A call for change entered the mainstream discourse. Gradually, retailers started to promise they’d do better.
Worldwide, close to 75 million people go to work everyday to make our clothes. 80% of them are women between the ages of 18 and 35. The majority of people who manufacture clothing for the global market live in poverty and are unable to meet their basic needs. Many are subject to exploitation, verbal and physical violence, in addition to dangerous and unsanitary working conditions. They suffer all this only to return home with measly and inadequate salaries.
How can we fix the disaster that is fast fashion?
Buy less, buy better and make it last. Support local small businesses that have adopted healthier and more transparent practices.
Minimize your environmental impact by choosing eco-responsible fabrics:
- Recycled natural fibres such as wool, cotton, and linen.
- Natural, eco-friendly fibers like the bamboo and organic cotton we use for our tank tops, or piñatex, the recycled pineapple leaf fiber we use for our Rose Buddha bags.
- Recycled synthetic fibres such as polyester made from recycled plastic bottles. Rose Buddha is famous for using recycled polyester to create their revolutionary, locally made leggings.
Find out where your clothes come from:
- Ask yourself #whomademyclothes. Don’t buy anything until you know the answer.
- Are your clothes made ethically, in a safe place where people are respected and paid for what they’re worth?
Take care of your clothes:
- Wash your clothing less frequently. Every time you wash your clothes, your washing machine breaks downs the tiny plastic microfibers, found in all textiles. These particles are released into our water supply, and eventually make their way into the ocean.
- Give your clothes the chance to age gracefully. When you extend the life of a garment by as little as three months, you can reduce your carbon footprint, water and waste by 5 to 10%.
Join the Fashion Revolution
The fashion revolution is a global movement that’s calling for a more equitable fashion industry. Join the growing community of fashion activists who are standing up for safer, cleaner working conditions and asking for ethics and transparency.
As citizens and consumers, we can make a difference with our questions, voices and purchasing habits. We are the driving force behind all trends. Every time we buy something, we’re voting with our wallets. Cast your vote with your dollar and say no to fast fashion. Say yes to local, ethical and sustainable purchases.
Remember the #1 rule : Your T. shirt should cost more than your coffee!
With love for you and our planet, Rose Buddha.
The True Cost documentary
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